In the late 1980's, an old friend of mine based in Moscow was calling her husband in the USA late one night. She said it was a "typical dumb husband-wife call," mostly about a broken garage door. Around midnight, a gruff voice broke into the call. "This is your KGB listener. This is the most boring, stupid call I've ever listened to. Shut up and go to bed!"Ah, those innocent Cold War days. Today, Big Brother listens to your calls, reads your email, and follows your internet searches on silent
cat's feet. China's Taoists warned, "you become what you hate." They are right: the September 2001 attacks on the US, as John Le Carre' wrote, producing a period of temporary psychosis. America was knocked back to the ugly days of Senator McCarthy's Red Scare of the 1950's. The big difference was that today the bogeymen of "terrorists" have replaced menacing Marxists. And today, "terrorists" have replaced menacing Marxists. and today, terrorists were everywhere. When I enlisted in the US Army during the Vietnam War, we were taught that it was our duty as American soldiers to report all war crimes and violations of the Geneva Convention, and to refuse to obey unlawful orders from superiors as established at post WWII Nuremburg trials. At the time I was proud to serve in America's armed forces. Today, the military trial of document leaker PFC Bradley Manning has echoes of the Soviet era: a show trial in which a lonely individual is slowly crushed by the wheels od so-called military justice, an oxymoron. The dramatic revelations of fugitive whistle-blower Edward Snowden brings back sharp memories of Soviet-era dissidence, jailed, banished, locked in foul prsychiatric hospitals for daring to speak the truth. In my day, those seeking justice and freedom used to defect from the East Bloc to the United States and Britain. Now, ironically, we see a major defector, Ed Snowden, fleeing to Russia. While the corporate-owned US news networks sugarcoat or obscure the NSA and Afghanistan War scandals, it's left to Russian TV (RT) to tell Americans the facts. Who would have thought? We journalists used to mock Pravda and Trud as party mouthpieces. Today, it's the party line all the time from big US networks, online news, and newspapers. The Republican far right calls Snowden and Manning traitors, some demand the death penalty. Snowden's lawyers warn he faces torture and possible execution if he returns home, Manning has already had a long term in solitary confinement, which is itself a form of psychological torture. We recall the horrific case of a Chicago gang member Jose Padillo during 9/11 hysteria. In an order signed by President George W. Bush, Padillo was accused on the flimsiest grounds of being an enemy combatant and stripped of all legal rights.